All About the Paranoid Android Custom ROM

What is Paranoid Android and should you install it?

Smartphone keyboard

Paranoid Android, not to be confused with the Radiohead song, is one of the most popular custom ROMs for Android, second only to LineageOS, (formerly known as CyanogenMod). Both offer many features to customize your Android, beyond even what the version of the Android OS offers. You first have to root your phone, before you can install or "flash" a custom ROM; you're essentially replacing your Android's built-in OS.

Custom ROMs take advantage of Android's open-source policy and often features available in these custom ROMs end up in the official version of Android. For instance, if you compare Android Lollipop, Marshmallow, and Nougat with older versions of LineageOS, you'll see some similar features, such as granular notification settings.

If you have a Google-made smartphone, such as the Pixel, or an unlocked device like the Moto X Pure Edition, you may not find the need to root your device or flash a custom ROM as you'll have access to the latest features and OS updates as soon as they're available. Devices running an OS that's a version or two behind will have to wait for their carrier to push out the update, which can often be months or even a year or more after Google releases it.

What Paranoid Android Offers

Paranoid Android offers several major features that improve the look and feel of your smartphone's interface and give you more control over the inner workings of your device.

Hover, true to its name, lets you hover over notifications and respond to them without leaving the app that you're using at the time. Thus, you can read that text from your BFF without interrupting the game you're playing or the video you're watching. Immersive mode removes distractions and gives you more screen real estate by hiding system bars, like the date and time and software buttons.

When using this mode, you can enable Pie, which lets you use navigation buttons by swiping when you need them. Dynamic System Bars (aka DSB) allows you to merge your status and navigation bars to better blend in with the surrounding content.

Peek shows your notifications on your lock screen, a feature that is also available on Android devices running Lollipop or later.

You can also spruce up your interface by downloading CyanogenMod themes from the Google Play Store. 

Other Custom Android ROMs

You don't have to flash a custom ROM when you root your phone, but it's worth trying one. Then you'll get access to a well-designed interface, personalization features, and other helpful functions. In addition to Paranoid Android, you can install LineageOS, AOKP (Android Open Kang Project), and dozens more. Also, you don't have to commit to one; you can try out as many as you'd like and then decide which the best custom ROM for your smartphone is. Finally, you can reverse the rooting process if you're not happy with the experience, and go back to plain old Android. Before you get started, learn how to root your smartphone safely.

Rooting Your Phone

The first step in installing a custom ROM is to root your smartphone.

Rooting gives you greater control over your phone, enabling you to install and uninstall applications at will. The process is fairly straightforward; there are only a few steps, but you need a bit of technical knowledge to do it right.

Rooting your phone brings many benefits. First, you can remove bloatware. That is unwanted apps pre-loaded by Google, your phone's manufacturer, or your wireless carrier. You can also install apps designed just for rooted phones, such as Titanium Backup, which can backup your phone's data on a custom schedule, and Root Call Blocker Pro, which blocks unwanted calls and text spam.

There are also app remover tools, which enable you to uninstall multiple apps at once, and apps that enable wireless tethering, even if your carrier blocks that feature, or charges extra for it.

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